Green - Nature's Colour Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Green - Nature's Colour

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A praying mantis.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant Land.
- 'Jerusalem' - William Blake.

Colour appeals to our feelings directly. It can make us happy and cheerful, liven us up or calm us down, having an almost magical or euphoric effect upon our moods. Positive healing effects of the colour green for the body and the soul were recognised by Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179), a famous medieval healer and author. She coined the term viriditas - the holy greening power of God.

Some people believe that green relates to the heart chakra: it is said that the organs associated with it are the heart and the breasts. 'Green has a soothing and harmonising effect due to its closeness with nature and therefore is the preferred colour for living rooms' - so says a popular 'Zen'-type home-decorating manual. But there's more to the colour green than meets the eye.

Green - The hue of that portion of the visible spectrum lying between yellow and blue, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy with wavelengths of approximately 490 to 570 nanometres; frequency 580 - 530 THz (terahertz); any of a group of colours that may vary in lightness and saturation and whose hue is that of the emerald or somewhat less yellow than that of growing grass; one of the additive or light primaries; one of the psychological primary hues.
- Definition of green from

Leaves are the best green thing on the planet, because without them we wouldn't be alive. Verdure is the name of the fresh green colour of growing things, with chlorophyll1, the pigment found in specialist plant cell organelles called chloroplasts, that makes the colour. Chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis, a process during which leaves absorb sunlight and 'breathe in' carbon dioxide (which humans exhale) and 'breathe out' oxygen (which humans inhale). Our lives are symbiotic with the plant world. Did you thank any trees recently?

The Kakapo is a green, fragrant (reminiscent of freesias, honey and lavender) parrot from Codfish Island, New Zealand. It enjoys life at a leisurely pace, sometimes taking months to mate. The 'world's most remarkable parrot', which no longer has the ability to fly, was studied by Douglas Adams for his work on Last Chance To See.

'Being green' has become the 21st-Century catchphrase for being environmentally-conscious, planet friendly, recycling, etc. Being 'green-fingered' means having a talent for gardening, and 'being a bit green' means immature - from green unripe fruit which hasn't matured to its perfect colour. Green also means 'go': not just traffic lights - we give things the green light when we approve them.

Grass is fantastically-useful stuff which feeds livestock and wild creatures. You can play tennis, football, rugby, golf and cricket on it. Bowls is played on a bowling green, and golfers aim for the green on a golf course. Baggy Green, the Australian cricket cap, is the symbol of the national side.

The village green once marked the focal point of English villages. Many places have retained the name, although the green itself may have disappeared: Acocks Green, Bethnal Green, Kensal Green, Golders Green, Turnham Green, etc. Country-dwellers do love their green belongings: Barbours (dark green waxed cotton jackets), wellies, Land Rovers, etc. You may even see the Queen and Princess Anne dressed like this when they're on holiday in Scotland.

In some of Britain's older parish churches there might be a decoration best described as a face or head formed of leaves, perhaps exuding vegetation from his lips. Known as 'the Green Man', he is essentially the same as a figure found in Northern and Central Europe called Jack-in-the-green. 'The Green Man' is also a popular name for British pubs.

Faces formed of leaves decorate pre-Christian Roman architecture, which lends weight to the argument that the Green Man is a pagan spirit, representing nature and fertility. In ancient China, green was the symbol of East and Wood.

The Holy Banner - the most precious relic of Islam - is green with golden embroidery, and green was the favourite colour of the Prophet Mohammad. The Prophet said three universally good things were 'water, greenery, and a beautiful face'. It is stated in the Qur'an that followers of God in Heaven wear fine green silk clothing.

In the USA green is the colour of informational and directional roadsigns. It also represents money because the US dollar (colloquially known as a 'Greenback') is green-coloured and the back is printed in green ink.

Green Ink

Tracing back the history of the GIB (the green-ink brigade) uncovered nuggets which will delight said members, such as: Regents (or guardians) of Roman Emperors deemed too young for such matters used to sign on the child's behalf in green ink.

The GIB are well-known to editors of newspapers and authors; colloquially known as 'green-inkers' and other choice names too ripe to reproduce here, they are ardent mistake-spotters and ranters. Other readers will notice slip-ups but it is a member of the GIB who will write to inform about the error/omission.

I once had a letter from a green ink regular, signed Paul the Apostle, telling me I was 'the spawn of the horned devil and a wicked whore from Hell'. I am, in fact, the spawn of an electrician and a postlady from Middlesbrough and I've thus far kept Paul the Apostle's letter from them for fear of causing a domestic incident. Don't ask me why these people choose green ink. They just do.
- Anonymous Northern Echo columnist (2006).

Banks request that you don't write out cheques in pencil (which can be easily erased) or green ink. They want to have monopoly over green ink in such improbable cases as you don't have enough funds in your account to honour a cheque, they can send it back through the banking system with the words 'Refer to Drawer Please Represent' written across the top in green block capitals (colloquially known as 'bouncing'). If you have a bad habit of issuing rubber cheques, the non-order will display the words: 'Refer to Drawer'.

Pharmacists are nice people who aren't pedants or fascist financial dictators. They use green ink on prescriptions to differentiate their writing from the doctor's indecipherable scrawl (they also write in Latin).

Dyslexic children are often less confident than non-dyslexics and find that work marked in the traditional red ink is intimidating. Hence their teachers are trained to mark work in green ink, and also make comments for improvement, rather than highlighting errors, to build up the child's self-esteem.

The Centre of the Rainbow

Most British schoolchildren learn the mnemonic  Richard Of York Gained2 Battle In Vain as a way to remember the order of the colours of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. This wonderful arc appears when sunlight is refracted through water droplets, at a 42° angle, but that's the scientific version. Kermit the Frog reckons it's 'just an illusion' but most people appreciate it for what it is - one of nature's glorious treats for the human eye. Some even believe there's a crock of gold at the end, guarded by a leprechaun, who are always portrayed dressed in green from top to toe.

The lower three colours of the spectrum are known as 'warm' shades and have a stimulating effect; the higher three colours are known as 'cool' shades and are calming in effect. Green, being in the centre, is the equilibrium between these two, therefore green is regarded as a balancing and harmonious colour.

Shades of Green

There are many different shades of green:

Apple Green

A bright, light green which is a great choice of colour for a baby's nursery if you choose not to know whether it's a boy or girl until he or she puts in an appearance.

Bottle Green

Bottle green is a really dark green - the choice of lots of schools for their uniform, so most people avoid it until they hit their thirties, then they can truly appreciate it. Bottle green looks good teamed with pale/mint green, but its true soulmate is tangerine orange.


British Racing Green is the colour of Jaguars, Bentleys, Mini Coopers and other British classic cars. For non-petrolheads, it's known as Brunswick, Hunter or Forest green.


Also called Nile green, eau-de-nil is an attractive pale green colour. In May 2006, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall wore a stunning eau-de-nil fitted suit, teamed with a matching feathered hat, at her daughter Laura's wedding.

Kawasaki Green

Kawasaki Green is a trademark colour for the bike manufacturer. While most of the other bike companies race in a variety of colours, the Kawasaki factory teams always race in a lime-colour green.

Lime Green

Also known as electric green, this is a vivid shade which looks great teamed with navy blue, making a mockery of the old saying 'blue and green should never be seen'.

Lincoln Green

The troupe of lovable rogues known as Robin Hood and his Merry Men allegedly robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. They apparently pranced around Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire dressed from head to toe in Lincoln green to blend in with their surroundings. That doesn't explain why Will Scarlet is always portrayed on film as being clothed in bright red, though.

Mint Green

A light, cold colour, verging on icy, mint green is a superb colour accessory for black, brown, orange, pink, white, dark green and any of the dark blues. If mint flavouring is added to a product it should taste of garden mint, that fantastically mouth-watering accompaniment to (look away now vegetarians) roast lamb. You can get green-coloured mint-flavoured toothpaste and mouthwash which are so exhilarating you feel like you have just eaten some snow cake3.

If you grow your own garden mint, place a leaf in the ice-cube tray before you add the water, then freeze. This will add a fresh, minty taste to your summer drinks, plus you'll have a talking-point at family parties. Alternate the mint ice-cubes with cherries and your guests will be rather impressed at having the choice of red or green ice-cubes.

Moss Green

A grey-green, Moss is the John Major of the greens. In terms of decorating, this would suit a small conservatory, but only if you want to entice people out into your garden. It's too dull to be teamed with fabulous dark greens, and too insipid to be matched with the diva-like electric greens. In a closing-down everything-must-go paint shop sale Moss is likely to be the second-to-last tin, just before Puce. It's also the surname of a stick-thin model sadly bound on a course of self-destruction just like the beautiful daughter of Hughie Green.

Olive Green

The dark yellow/green colour of green olives is an Old English word recorded as far back as the 15th Century. At one time it was a popular Christian name for a girl, notably Popeye's girlfriend Ms Oyl.


Puce is the sickly-yellow/green colour chosen by offspring the first time they're allowed to select a colour-scheme for their own room. They do this for the shock value, it's unlikely they actually like the colour. They're just going to cover it with posters anyway, so just agree and deny them the satisfaction. Get a decorator in so you don't make yourself ill, though. Be advised this stage is one-step-before the Goth period when they'll want everything - including the windows - black. With a 'No Entry' sign on the door. They'll enter with acne and an attitude problem and emerge taller than you demanding their own house. You'll wonder what ever happened to that sweet little six-year-old who wanted to marry you, and weep.

Teal Green

Teal is a bluey/green, the colour of the ocean on a balmy, calm day. Teal features predominantly in the magnificent tail feathers of peacocks.

Green Tea

Green tea is thought to have greater antimicrobial properties than black tea because, in black tea, the leaves have oxidised and withered, and oxidation destroys some of the tannins which have anti-bacterial and antiviral properties. Tea prevents tooth decay, and the Japanese have a tannin-based toothpaste. Green tea has also performed well in tests against cancer, and, in particular, is thought to suppress the development of stomach cancer. It contains catechins, thought to be protective against the harmful effects of radiation, as well as strengthening capillaries and lowering blood pressure, thus relieving headaches. There appears to be some evidence that it behaves as an antioxidant, inhibiting damage by free radicals and thus slowing down the effects of ageing.

The Irish

People from Ireland (which is known as the 'Emerald Isle') like to celebrate St Patrick's Day by wearing green and painting their town green. These guys really know how to party! They may even turn their favourite beer green for the occasion, although that's just to take money from drunken tourists - no Irish person would ever drink green beer.

'O'Rafferty's Motor Car' is 40 shades of green, according to the Irish folk song:

What a wonderful motor car
It's the finest ever seen
It used to be black as me father's hat
Now it's forty shades of green
- 'O'Rafferty's Motor Car' sung by Val Doonican

Precious Stones and Gems

Ancient civilizations, including Greek, Roman, Persian, Egyptian, the Incas and the Aztecs, associated gems with months. The qualities (and negative) aspects of the stone were applied to people born during that particular time, as a kind of personality test.

The most well-known green precious stone is emerald. In legend they are said to soothe souls and sharpen wit; and are supposed to change to a different shade of green if the owner is unfaithful to the giver. Emeralds are the birthstone for those with a birthday in May - but women born in other months like these stones as well! One famous lady who didn't care for them was Princess Diana, although she wore the fabulous emerald choker Prince Charles gave her around the forehead instead of her neck.

Peridot is the gem form of the mineral olivine. The shades range from a light-yellowish green to a bottle green. Ancient Egyptians considered this stone the gem of the sun. Hawaiian legend regards peridots as tears shed by Pele, the goddess of the volcano. In folklore, the peridot was said to have healing powers and to protect against nightmares. Peridot is the birthstone for people born in glorious August.

Jade: or yu, as it is called in China, is a generic term for two different gems, nephrite and jadeite. Because of its supposed beneficial effect on the kidneys and peripheral oedema, jade is also known as lapis nephriticus. Spanish conquistadors thought jade should be worn continuously to utilise the full curative power, but others argued that would weaken the effect. Christian IV, the 16th-Century King of Denmark and Norway, wore a green nephrite until the day he died, aged 70 years. This stone is still preserved in the Rosenborg Museum collection. Nephrite ranges from mid- to dark-green or grey-green. Only in the very finest jade is the colour evenly distributed; nephrite and jadeite have veins and streaks but this is not regarded as a flaw, in fact some of the patterns are highly valuable and popular.

Turquoise is a lightweight opaque stone ranging in colour from sky-blue to apple-green. This stone was revered by Native Americans, and Arabians call turquoise fayruz (meaning lucky stone). The ancient Egyptians associated turquoise with the goddess Hathor, and their personal use of the stone dates from the First Dynasty. Pharaohs and their wives wore it in scarab-shaped brooches, rings and chest-covering necklaces called pectorals. Turquoise is the birth-stone for December.

Other Green Precious and Semi-precious Stones

  • Aventurine, a variety of translucent quartz, comes in green, blue and peach/orange.

  • Beryl: Beryllium-aluminium-silicate, to give it its scientific name, is a wide-ranging family of gems which includes emerald, aquamarine and morganite.

  • Although the most-prized lapis lazuli is a royal blue colour (this was used to create the stunning effect in the priceless death mask of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun) it can range in colour from green to sky-blue.

  • Topaz comes in many colours including green, light brown, blue, translucent yellow, and clear.

  • Tourmaline is pyro-electric (it will draw ashes toward it when warmed). It comes in assorted beautiful, vivid colours; and Watermelon Tourmaline, which is green outside and pink inside, is very popular. Tourmaline is the birth-stone for October.

Green Turtles

There is a large green sea turtle Chelonia mydas with an olive-coloured shell which is a highly-prized delicacy in some countries. It prefers swimming in the ocean though. Other countries have the Green Turtle on their protected species list. Green Turtle Cay is a popular island tourist destination in Abaco, The Bahamas. This was once a port-of-call for pirates, who knew of the abundance of the gentle sea creatures in the area. The turtle meat provided the pirates with 'belly timber' during long sea journeys. The turtles were hunted almost to extinction, but thankfully they've out-lived the pirates.

Malachite, Copper and Bronze

Malachite is an attractive bright-green mineral with a long history of use. It has been used in Egypt since 5000 BC as a pigment, an attractive eye-shadow and, thanks to its antibacterial nature, in medicine. Its principal use today is as a source for copper metal, and as a green pigment for artists.

Copper is frequently used for roofing, and the metal is sufficiently reactive to be attacked by chemicals present in the atmosphere, such as salt from sea-spray. The distinctive green patina of copper can be seen in the panoramic view of some European cities. This oxidation also happens to bronze statues, giving them a fine greenish crust. Treating copper with acetic acid creates a substance known as verdigris which can be used as a pigment or dye, but it is poisonous.

The Greenhouse

Greenhouses are useful garden structures usually with a metal or wooden frame and lots of glass panes, the favourite target of little boys with footballs. You may like certain plants, flowers, fruits, etc and would love to grow your own, but if you live in an inclement climate, delicate plants like orchids and cacti can be grown in the friendly environment of the greenhouse. With you in control of the thermostat, you can grow roses to bloom in wintertime and summer berries to finish off your Christmas lunch.

Heraldic Meanings and Flags

The colour green on a flag represents: Hope; joy; loyalty to a cause or leader; the country; land and fruitfulness. The heraldic term is vert (which is also the French word for green).

Libya is the only country whose flag is just one colour - and it's green.

Green Characters

The Green Hornet; Green Lantern, Peter Pan and the Jolly Green Giant are all pretty good fellows, but super-villain the Green Goblin is definitely a baddie. Baron Silas Greenback is the nemesis of Dangermouse. Red Green was an inept handyman character in the Canadian comedy sketch The Red Green Show which parodied DIY and home improvement programmes of the era. Green's secret weapon or 'universal adapter' was duct-tape. 'Radox The Green' was a character in the four part BBC radio series Hordes Of The Things by APR Marshall and JHW Lloyd.

The Marvel Comics hero The Incredible Hulk is green-skinned. Louth in Lincolnshire's resident ghost the Green Lady, supposedly the wealthy Spanish noblewoman Donna Leonora Oviedo, allegedly haunts Thorpe Hall. You certainly wouldn't want to meet Jenny Greenteeth AKA the Greentoothed Woman.

'Little green men' constantly turn up in science fiction books and programmes, and the phrase has become a euphemism for extra-terrestrial beings. They're not the ones responsible for alien abductions and human experimentation though, as according to some victims their kidnappers were grey.

Perhaps the most famous alien next to ET is the 'Spock' character (played by Leonard Nimoy) from the original Star Trek. OK, he's not green, but his blood is, even though he's only half-Vulcan (he had a human mother). You'd think the writers would've given him green and red striped blood, to add to his mystique. We rarely saw it after all, he never wore a red shirt.

Lucky or Unlucky?

Four-leafed clovers are very lucky, apparently! But they're green, right? Some people regard green as an unlucky colour, not only would they not purchase a green car, but would refuse a lift in one.

According to an old wives' tale, if you're getting married you shouldn't dress your bridesmaids in green; presumably nowadays that goes for the best man as well. But if you dress in green at Gretna, would those who believe in Murphy's law think you're tempting fate just a little too much and doom your union from the start?

Homage to Green

Green is the colour of the sparkling corn
in the morning when we rise,
in the morning when we rise.
That's the time, that's the time
I love the best.

- Second verse of 'Colours' by Dominic Leitch.

'Greensleeves' is a traditional English folk song, and according to legend the tune was written by that romantic old soul Henry VIII for his second wife Anne Boleyn while he was courting her. 'Greensleeves' is mentioned by William Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society is an album by, unsurprisingly, The Kinks. Released in 1968, it rebelled against the current trend, lauding virginity and its preservation rather than free love, and Sunday School as opposed to devil worship. Other problems the band were having contributed to the retail failure. Having undergone a reassessment, it is now available in a three-disc special, and recommended if you don't own any Kinks albums or just fancy a trip to Nostalgia Central.

Here are just a few songs about green or with green in the title:

  • 'Green Is The Colour' - Pink Floyd
  • 'Leaves That Are Green' - Paul Simon
  • 'Little Green Apples' - Roger Miller
  • 'Green, Green Grass of Home' - Tom Jones
  • 'Green Song' - Elvis Costello
  • 'Being Green' - Diana Ross
  • 'It's Not Easy Being Green' - Kermit the Frog
  • 'Memories of Green' - Vangelis
  • 'The Grass is Green' - Nelly Furtado
  • 'Green Light' - Cliff Richard
  • 'Green Door' - Shakin' Stevens
  • 'Green Tambourine' - Lemon Pipers
  • 'The Green Manalishi' - Fleetwood Mac
  • 'Green Onions' - Booker T and the MGs
  • 'Green River' - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • 'Green Fields' - The Beverley Sisters
  • 'Green Jeans' - Flee-Rekkers
  • 'The Green Leaves of Summer' - Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen
  • 'Green Street Green' - New Vaudeville Band
  • 'Evergreen' - Barbra Streisand
  • 'Green-eyed Monster' - 10cc
  • 'If The Moon Turns Green' - Billie Holliday
  • 'Girl in Green' - Blue Rodeo
  • 'Three Little Green Candles' - Chris Rea
  • 'Green-eyed Boy' - Dolly Parton

The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God is a poetic tale of tragic love.

The Greencards are a bluegrass/folk music band; then there's the American Punk band Green Day.

The Green Dog: A Mostly True Story is a book by Suzanne Fisher Staples; although there isn't a true green-coloured breed of dog, it's possible to make one if you're that way inclined.

Green is also a common surname, even among famous people: Al Green, Peter Green, Sarah Greene, Hughie Green,Eva Green, Seth Green, Ed Greene, Lorne Greene, Brian Austin Green, Robson Green, Michelle Green, Dick Green, Abigail Green-Dove, Mi Mi Green-Fan, Logan Marshall-Green, Rosebud Dixon-Green, and they are not necessarily related.

Green on Film

  • The Green Man (1956) - starring Alastair Sim
  • The Green Mile (1999) - starring Tom Hanks
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café (1991) - starring Jessica Tandy
  • Green Card (1990) - starring Gérard Depardieu
  • Anne of Green Gables (1985) - starring Megan Follows
  • Dixon of Dock Green (1955 - 1976) - starring Jack Warner
  • The Green Berets (1968) - starring John Wayne
  • Soylent Green (1973) - starring Charlton Heston

Bad Green Things

Green is the colour associated with jealousy and envy, two undesirable emotions. Around 7 BC, the Greek poetess Sappho used the word green to describe the pallor of a rejected suitor. Since then the phrase has stuck, with mentions by Ovid, Chaucer and Shakespeare:

O! beware my lord, of Jealousy;
It is the green-ey'd monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.

- Iago - Act 3 Othello by William Shakespeare.

So green is associated with heartsickness, but also we use the phrase 'green around the gills' to describe someone suffering from mal de mer (seasickness), or just looking unwell, nauseated, pale and miserable, possibly from the effects of eating something that's disagreed with you, or motion sickness from a roller-coaster.

  • Soylent Green - if you haven't seen the film, no spoilers here - grab a copy and enjoy the ickiness. Soylent Green has been mentioned in a few Simpsons episodes with Homer drooling over the thought of it. The stuff was also affectionately parodied by the writers of Futurama in an episode when Fry was addicted to 'slurm' - a canned secret-recipe waste product of an alien worm race.

  • Anything green on human skin requires a doctor's attention - unless of course it's the colour ink you chose for your latest tattoo. Substances which may give your skin a greenish hue are biliverdin (the green pigment in bile) and the protein ceruloplasmin.

  • Kryptonite is the only substance which can kill 'Superman' (Clark Kent/Kal-El). The green crystals are radioactive fragments of the exploded planet Krypton, Kal-El's homeworld. 'Committing Kryptonite' has become a Hollywood catch-phrase for what superstitious types believe can happen to a person's life after being associated with 'Superman', due to the alleged 'curse'.

  • Human hair shouldn't be green; seriously, it's not a good look, so save yourself a bad hair day and choose another hair-dye tone.

  • The Reverend Green in the board game Cluedo, but only if he's unmasked as the murderer, of course!

  • In field hockey, a green card signals a warning to a player; it's less severe than a yellow card.

  • Green Death - depending on your point of view, of course.

  • The Grüne Minna is the German equivalent to the Black Maria (paddywagon).

  • Vomiting a green soup-like substance when you're not otherwise unwell probably means you're in the grip of a demonic possession and need to call in either your local ghost-busting team, or better still, your parish priest who will recommend an exorcist. Good luck with that.

Bad Green Food

  • Food that shouldn't be green, like meat that's past its use-by date. The greening of meat is caused by hydrogen peroxide-producing lactic acid bacteria eg lactobacilli. It probably smells bad too.

  • Unripe food like green tomatoes and green bananas will give you a stomach upset if eaten. Wait till they're ripe!

  • Don't eat green potatoes. This is indicative of the presence of a poisonous compound called solanine, which also occurs in the related deadly nightshade. Solanine is produced when potato tubers are exposed to light. At the same time, they turn green due to production of chlorophyll - which is harmless, we eat it all the time (or should) in green veg.

Green Allsorts

  • The Green Cross Code is something you can teach children to give them awareness of road safety.

  • In botany sempervirens means 'evergreen', and you'll find these plants don't shed their leaves in autumn. An example of an evergreen tree is the Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).
  • Greenpeace.

  • Green baize is the cloth which covers a snooker table.

  • Hammersmith Bridge - a diva of a bridge - is green with gold trim.

  • A greenfinch is a native European finch with olive-green and yellow feathers.

  • A greengrocer is a shopkeeper specialising in selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

  • The green-leek Polytelis swainsoni is a small parakeet from Australia.

  • The 12th Century story of the green-skinned children of Woolpit, Suffolk, England is a medieval mystery.

  • A 'green paper' is a report containing policy proposals to be deliberated upon, usually in Parliament.

  • A greenshankTringa nebularia is a member of the sandpiper family, interestingly, it has pale green legs.

  • Most of the ingredients of a salad; green beans; greengages; green peppers; sprouts; cabbage; and - of course - the humble garden pea and the citrus lime.

  • A 'Green Card' is an identification document which allows non-citizens of the USA some of the rights its citizens enjoy, sometimes with the prospect of living there permanently.

  • The Green Room, aka the hospitality suite, where performers relax before the show. Or over-indulge and then wreck the programme.

  • Why not try making some Frankfurter Grüne Sauce or an Emerald Star Cocktail?

  • Gretna Green in Scotland is where loved-up couples elope to get married over the blacksmith's anvil.

  • Green Flag is one of those organisations which sensible motorists pay a premium to, but pray they never need.

  • Green College Oxford anyone?

  • A greenstick fracture is a partial fracture, when the bone is only broken on one side.

  • Green & Black's is a company which makes organic chocolate and also boasts the first Fairtrade mark to be awarded in the UK.

  • When Prince Charles and his second wife Camilla got engaged, they posed for photographs wearing co-ordinated outfits made from the same material, a green tartan woollen tweed.

  • Green Wing is a British sit-com, based in a hospital, apparently.

  • The 'Green Goddess' is the nickname of fitness expert Diana Moran - or a Bedford self-propelled pump fire vehicle from the 1950s. Take your pick.

  • Green and purple are the colours of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club.


Q: Why are the irides4 of my eyes green?

A: In a blue-coloured iris there is a small amount of melanin in the anterior border layer; light passes into the stroma5 where collagen fibres reflect the incoming light back as blue. When there is more melanin present, this holds onto the light and produces a chocolate brown-coloured iris. In a green (or hazel) iris, the level of melanin is variable, so some light is soaked up by the melanin and some dispersed by the collagen. The thinner brown layer looks yellow, which when blended with the blue produces green. You may also wonder why you have green eyes but your children don't, or vice-versa. The answer to that is, it's all in the genes.

1From the Greek words chloros meaning pale green and phyllon meaning a leaf.2Some people learned the 'G' as Gave or Gains, but it doesn't really matter, so long as you remember the 'G'.3Literally, a 'cake' of snow which the autistic character 'Linda' (played by Sigourney Weaver) in Snow Cake described to 'Alex' (Alan Rickman) as 'the closest to having an orgasm as I have ever come'.4The plural of iris, taken from the Greek word iris meaning rainbow.5From the Greek word for mattress, it means the connective tissue forming the substance or foundation of an organ or cell.

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